The Scottish government will provide millions of pounds to bridge a potential funding gap between existing EU rural development schemes and new payment arrangements in 2015.
Delays in passing the necessary EU legislation means the new Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) which provides support for less favoured areas and agri-environment schemes will not be in place until 2015.
But Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead confirmed that as much of the £1.2bn paid under the SRDP would continue.
“We are acting quickly, using the powers and funds available to us to protect essential subsidies for our farmers and ensuring we continue to protect our natural environment,” he said.
The Scottish government faces budget cuts of 11%, enforced by Westminster, but Mr Lochhead and his team had protected a significant amount to protect Scottish rural development funding.
About £70m has been allocated in the draft budget for 2014-15, compared to £66m in this financial year which he said would mitigate as much of the EU delay as possible.
“We are acting quickly, using the powers and funds available to us to protect essential subsidies for our farmers and ensuring we continue to protect our natural environment.”
Richard Lochhead, Scottish rural affairs secretary
The news was welcomed by NFU Scotland, which said the move provided a degree of continuity in support until the switch from a payment system based on historic receipts to an area based setup.
NFU Scotland’s director of policy, Jonnie Hall said covering these important funding priorities was vital for a huge number of farms and crofts across Scotland.
“We believe it is right that the bridge between the current and future schemes should focus on the essentials of SFP and the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS).
“They provide a lifeline to many farmers and rural communities, but also deliver significant environmental good as well,” he added.